Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Psychology (Masters)

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 83 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Leslie Halpern

Committee Members

Hazel Prelow


Executive functions (Neuropsychology), Child mental health, Emotional problems of children, Emotions in children, Families

Subject Categories

Psychology | Public Health


It is well established that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase risk of developing mental health disorders later in life. It is unclear how early in childhood these effects can be seen. Executive functioning (EF) and emotion regulation (ER) have been proposed as potential mechanisms which mediate the effect of ACEs on mental health. Individual ACEs have been associated with poor EF and ER. It is unclear whether ACE scores impact EF and ER in a graded, dose-response manner. It is also unclear how early in childhood these effects can be seen. Finally, more research is needed to identify family and community “compensatory factors” which mitigate the effects of ACEs. This study utilized data from the National Survey of Children’s health 2011-2012, a sample of children ages 2-17 from across the United States. Logistic regression analyses showed ACEs were associated with mental health (diagnoses of depression, anxiety, behavior problems) in a dose-response pattern. This pattern was relatively similar across age groups. ACEs were associated with EF and ER indicators in a dose response pattern, although the overall effect was weaker than the effects of ACEs on mental health. This pattern did not differ meaningfully by age. Potential family compensatory factors were only inconsistently related to improved mental health outcomes. Family factors (regular family meals) were consistently associated with improved EF and ER outcomes. Community factors, in particular neighborhood cohesion, were consistently associated with improved mental health and EF, ER factors. These patterns did not differ across age groups.